During a ceremony in the gardens of the Embassy of the Republic of Poland in Cairo Dr. Khaled El-Enany, and Dr. Zahi Hawass, were awarded Officer’s Crosses of the Order of Merit of the Republic of Poland for their distinguished contributions to Egyptian-Polish cooperation in the field of archaeology and tourism.
H.E. Dr. Khaled El-Enany is the Minister of Tourism and Antiquities of Egypt, and H.E. Dr. Zahi Hawass has held this position in previous years. The decorations were presented by H.E. Dr. Michał Łabenda, the Polish ambassador to Egypt. Among the invited guests were representatives of Egyptian antiquities authorities and the archaeological community in Cairo. Also present was Prof. Anna Wodzińska, the director of the PCMA UW Research Station in Cairo, as well as the directors of Polish expeditions currently working in Egypt.
Cooperation between Egypt and Poland in the field of archaeology started over 80 years ago when Prof. Kazimierz Michałowski co-directed excavations in Edfu (1937). It was resumed in 1957, when Michałowski started research at Tell Atrib in the Nile Delta, and shortly thereafter in Alexandria and Deir el-Bahari. Since then, Polish expeditions have worked at over 30 archaeological sites in Egypt. These numerous projects could operate in Egypt thanks to the establishment of a permanent research institute, the PCMA UW Research Centre in Cairo, which has been operating since 1959 to this day. In 2019, on the occasion of its 60th anniversary, an anniversary exhibition was held at the Egyptian Museum.
– Many generations of Polish scientists, as well as students, have taken part in research on the archaeology and history of this unique country. We have been able to work in Egypt for 83 years thanks to the cooperation with Egyptian archaeologists – says Prof. Anna Wodzińska. – The positive attitude of Dr. Khaled El-Enani and the friendship of Dr. Zahi Hawass should be particularly emphasized. Without their help, we would not be able to conduct our research – emphasizes Prof. Wodzińska.
During Sunday’s ceremony, Dr. El-Enany praised the discoveries and conservation works of Polish archaeologists, mentioning some that have been opened to the public, e.g. the Villa of the Birds in Alexandria and the Sanctuary of Amun-Re in Deir el-Bahari. He also emphasized the importance of Poland as Egypt’s partner in tourism. Dr. Hawass recalled his meeting with Prof. Michałowski at the beginning of his archaeological career and the impression of unquestionable authority that the scientist had on him.
The Order of Merit of the Republic of Poland is a decoration awarded by the President of the Republic of Poland. It is given to foreigners and Polish citizens living outside the country, as a sign of recognition for their outstanding contributions to international cooperation and the cooperation between Poland and other countries and nations.